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Forecasts point to a busy 2024 hurricane season.


The Atlantic Hurricane season starts on June first. Early forecasts indicate that this year will have an above average number of storms. The Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University is predicting twenty three named storms in 2024, along with eleven hurricanes, and over one hundred stormy days. That outpaces a typical Atlantic storm season which has fourteen named storms and seven hurricanes. The National Weather Service will issue its forecast on Thursday, which is expected to be similar to Colorado State’s.

A heavy or slower season is often linked to two weather phenomena. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says “El Nino,” pushes warmer water toward the west coast, and “La Nina” which includes cooler water. Either system can influence how hurricanes develop and behave in the Atlantic. Don Shepherd is lead forecaster with the National Weather Service on Mobile. He says cooling temperatures in the Pacific this year and warmer waters in the Atlantic could mean more violent storms…

“You know, just all the factors that would say, you're going to have tropical development likely, you know, throughout the year, all those factors are there. And that's why most of the forecasts and like I said, and I suspect that as well being to are going to be well above the average,” he said.

NOAA's website describes “El Nino,” and “La Nina” this way….

“During normal conditions in the Pacific Ocean, trade winds blow west along the equator, taking warm water from South America towards Asia. To replace that warm water, cold water rises from the depths — a process called upwelling. El Niño and La Niña are two opposing climate patterns that break these normal conditions. Scientists call these phenomena the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle. El Niño and La Niña can both have global impacts on weather, wildfires, ecosystems, and economies. Episodes of El Niño and La Niña typically last nine to 12 months but can sometimes last for years. El Niño and La Niña events occur every two to seven years, on average, but they don’t occur on a regular schedule. Generally, El Niño occurs more frequently than La Niña.”

Don Shepherd with the National Weather Service in Mobile says this year’s “La Nina” could mean more tropical storm activity in the Atlantic and possibly more hurricanes.

“And when they cool out there, we typically get less wind shear and more moisture over the Atlantic Ocean. And, that combined with a record high sea surface temperature, you know, just all the factors that would say, you're going to have tropical development.”

The 2024 Hurricane season starts on June first and ends on November thirtieth.

Editor's note— The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA is out with its 2024 hurricane forecast. The agency's website says ...

"NOAA is forecasting a range of 17 to 25 total named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher). Of those, 8 to 13 are forecast to become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 4 to 7 major hurricanes (category
3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher). Forecasters have a 70% confidence in these ranges."

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
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